The influence of political ideology and trust on willingness to vaccinate

PLoS ONE 13 (1) (2018)

Authors
Bert Baumgaertner
University of Idaho
Abstract
In light of the increasing refusal of some parents to vaccinate children, public health strategies have focused on increasing knowledge and awareness based on a “knowledge-deficit” approach. However, decisions about vaccination are based on more than mere knowledge of risks, costs, and benefits. Individual decision making about vaccinating involves many other factors including those related to emotion, culture, religion, and socio-political context. In this paper, we use a nationally representative internet survey in the U.S. to investigate socio-political characteristics to assess attitudes about vaccination. In particular, we consider how political ideology and trust affect opinions about vaccinations for flu, pertussis, and measles. Our findings demonstrate that ideology has a direct effect on vaccine attitudes. In particular, conservative respondents are less likely to express pro-vaccination beliefs than other individuals. Furthermore, ideology also has an indirect effect on immunization propensity. The ideology variable predicts an indicator capturing trust in government medical experts, which in turn helps to explain individual-level variation with regards to attitudes about vaccine choice.
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